Categories: Drama, Realism
Other info: *Disclaimer: This story is rated R for language. The characters belong not only to me, but to their co-creator, Jen. So we share the credit. :)
“I’m here to see Mallory Davis,” Dylan stops walking only after the words come out of his mouth, and leans against the Nurses’ Station counter. His mind’s completely blank, except for the overwhelming worry.
“Sorry?” The older nurse glances up from her paperwork.
“Davis. Mallory Davis.” For someone who is usually such a calm and collected person, his voice displays just the faintest bit of panic and annoyance. Couldn’t she have listened the first time he said it?
With a few punches in the computer, the nurse pulls up Mallory’s account then frowns slightly. “I’m sorry, Sir, but she’s in the intensive wing.”
“What does that mean?” He’ll just ignore the tiny crack in his voice. His heart’s pounding so loudly in his ears, it’s surprising he can even hear himself speak.
“I’m not allowed to let anyone back—unless, of course, you’re immediate family?” She gives him a rather pointed look.
Is that a hint? Is he supposed to say he is, so he can slip through the crack in the system? If he lies and says he’s her brother or something, will this woman tell him where to find her? And why is this taking so long??
Dylan pauses, mind racing for the correct answer. “I’m—”
Dylan and the nurse turn to see the teenage girl who just spoke. She’d snuck up on them. Her faint smile shows not only anxiety and exhaustion, but also relief to see him. Dylan sighs a soft release at the sight of Lisa, but the overpowering worry is still settled deep in his stomach.
“Hey, Lis,” he speaks, almost returning that relieved smile.
“Hey.” Lisa turns to the nurse. “It’s okay, Anna,” she repeats herself, “He’s family.”
The nurse nods. “All right.”
Lisa takes Dylan’s arm and turns to lead him down the hall. His mind travels for a moment over the idea that at first glance they seem like an awkward pair—Dylan in his late twenties, clean shaven, all in black, rather gothic-looking, but with a bright twinkle of humor in his eye, and Lisa, a young girl whose face shows signs of age and maturity. Desperate to fit in with her peers, Dylan’d watched how she changed from style to style, sampling the latest fashions: today a soft pink velour jogging suit, too much makeup for a fifteen year old girl, and blonde streaks in her straightened and styled brown hair.
Dylan turns to her, desperate for conversation—anything to relieve the tension of the situation. “You know the nurses by name?”
Lisa frowns slightly at him. “She’s always here during Mallory’s visits, but she’s usually on break.”
“Oh,” his frown fades a little. How could he not have recognized her? He was here just as often with Mallory as Lisa was. If not more often. “She looked familiar.”
“How is she?” He rests his hand over hers on his arm, her fingers cold under his palm.
“Fine. As well as can be expected, really. She’s resting.”
They turn a corner together, and walk the rest of the length of the hall in silence. Excruciating silence. Dylan can’t seem to walk fast enough, though when he tries to move his legs faster, they feel like dead weight. When Lisa reaches the door she stops and motions to it for him. He looks through the window cautiously, into the room where Mallory lays on the bed, wrapped in blankets. Dylan can’t help but notice how dim it looks in there, how frail Mallory looks.
“Did she ask—?”
Lisa cuts him off. “As soon as I got here. She’s been asking where you are the whole time. She wants to see you. She’s also scared that—” but she doesn’t finish that statement. “…Well, you should go talk to her.”
He nods, turns the handle, and pushes open the door. The lights are turned down, and the beige curtains pulled over the window don’t let much sunlight through. The privacy curtains around the bed are a gaudy, faded, pepto-bismol pink, and the blanket covering Mallory’s body from the chest down is sky blue. A picture of flowers hangs above her bed, above where the instruments and wires and tubes sit. She’s obviously been crying.
Dylan watches her for a moment, eyes traveling over her hair and form, his expression softening. She looks so calm. Must be the medication.
“Hey.” Seems to be his word choice of the day.
“Hey,” she turns to look at him, tear lines like snail tracks down her cheeks. Her dark hair’s pulled back into a long braid at the back of her head, laid over her shoulder and half way down her chest. Her brown eyes, which usually shine so brightly, now carry the dull glimmer of someone who’s empty inside. Or incredibly drugged.
He stands for a moment, slightly awkward, and turns to look back at the door. Lisa’s face disappears from the window.
“Have you talked to the doctor?” Mallory asks, reaching her hand out to him. Her voice is much more quiet and calm than he’s used to.
“No,” he replies, taking her hand in his and sitting on the bed, facing her. He brings his other hand around and holds her hand in both of his. Although he’s not surprised that he wants to do anything and everything to make her feel better, he’s surprised that he’s acting like it. He usually doesn’t show such emotion.
“Oh. Um… there’s some—there’s some bad news.” She turns away, tears welling up in her eyes again, her voice cracking.
Please don’t cry, Mal… Dylan knows what she’s talking about. Lisa said something to him on the phone when she called him. He shushes her. “Shhh. It’s okay.” His free hand trails up to wipe the tears from her cheeks. “It’s going to be okay.”
She shakes her head. “It’s not okay. It’s not going to be okay. She’s gone, Dylan. She’s dead and gone.”
He closes his eyes and sighs softly. Poor Mallory. She’s been through so much, and he wasn’t here for her.
“She’s gone, and I’m—I’m s-so sorry.” Mallory starts crying again, very softly. Her free hand lifts up to cover her eyes, trailing her iv along her chest.
Dylan glances at the door and sees Lisa’s face in the window again, but gives her a little shake of his head, meaning for her to stay out in the hall for a few minutes. He moves forward on the bed, wrapping his arms around her while she cries.
“Shhh. Shh, Mallory, don’t cry.”
She takes a deep breath, calming slightly. The machine attached to her IV buzzes softly before beeping again, slowly. Dylan frowns at the machine.
What seems to Dylan like a long time passes. Mallory leaves her eyes closed, her face pressed against his chest. After a moment he speaks again, “I don’t know what to say.” He attempts to calm her, running his hand over her hair, holding her against him. It doesn’t seem to work. She squirms slightly against him.
“There’s—there’s nothing you can say. She’s gone. She’s dead and gone, and there’s nothing we can do.”
“Better?” Dylan takes the little, plastic cup from her, and sets it on the tray next to her bed.
She nods. “A little.”
He settles down next to her on the bed, running his hand up and down her arm. He hopes it feels comforting. He sighs softly when she curls against him.
“It’s going to be okay, Mal. Everything’s going to be okay.” His voice sounds strange. Distant. But he’s trying his best to soothe her. It’s all well and good for him to say everything’s all right, but does he know? Does he have the answers to the questions she wants to be answered? How could he if he doesn’t even know what questions she has?
She swallows a bit, then clears her throat. “Is it?”
Dylan nods, running his hand over her back. It feels good to be next to her like this. He chastises himself for such a selfish thought when she’s in so much pain. “Of course it is. Do you know when they’re going to let me take you home?”
She shakes her head, sniffling softly again. No tears come, though.
“Should I go ask the doctor?” He asks, moving to sit up.
“No!” She wraps an arm around him, pulling him back down next to her. “No, please stay…”
“All right.” He re-wraps his arm around her and hugs her against him. He wishes he would say the right thing, or do the right thing. He settles for doing what feels right to him. “I’ll stay.”
A knock comes at the door. Mallory stays pushed up against him, savoring his warmth. Dylan looks up.
“Lisa’s outside.” He says, softly.
Mallory pulls slightly away from Dylan and turns to the door. “Come in.”
Lisa pushes the door open and steps forward. “Am I interrupting?” She looks so small, so young. Dylan gives her a soft, soft smile.
Mallory shakes her head. Dylan does, too. Lisa walks in carefully, letting the door close behind her. Attempting a little smile, Mallory holds her hand out to Lisa. Lisa walks over and takes her hand.
“Doctor Mehew is outside. He wants to come in and talk to you.”
Mallory nods, turning to look up at Dylan, then back to Lisa. “Okay. Can you let him in?”
Lisa drops Mallory’s hand, and crosses to the door. Mallory brings her hand back around to rest against Dylan’s arm as soon as Lisa’s hand releases it.
Lisa opens the door, and the doctor comes in while Dylan gets up off the bed and runs both hands over his pants. He’s worried about making a good first impression. He’s worried the doctor’s going to make him leave, because he’s not technically family. Well not yet.
Doctor Mehew wears a long white coat, with a stethoscope hanging around his neck. A clipboard sits in his large, weathered hands, and his bifocals slip down his nose. He smiles softly.
“Miss Davis? How are you feeling?”
Mallory turns to him, lets her eyes focus for a moment, and shrugs. “I’m okay.”
“Well, I suppose that’s better than feeling terrible.” He chuckles at his own joke. Dylan doesn’t really find it funny.
Dylan clears his throat.
Mallory’s voice sounds slow and heavy, probably because of the drugs. “Doctor Mehew, this is Dylan. My—“
“Her fiancé,” Dylan interrupts, reaching over to shake the doctor’s hand. He’s not sure if he should have interrupted her like that, but he wants to make sure the doctor knows he’s staying put.
Mallory pauses. “M-My fiancé. Excuse me.” She grabs a tissue and wipes at her eyes.
“Ah. Nice to meet you, Dylan.” They shake hands, while Doctor Mehew goes on. “Perhaps we should take this into the hallway?”
Dylan nods, and the two men step into the hall, leaving Lisa and Mallory alone in silence.
Out in the hallway Doctor Mehew explains the situation to Dylan, whose head seems full and fit to burst. “She can go home tomorrow, if the test results come back the way I want them to. We just want to make sure she doesn’t lose any more blood.”
That doesn’t sit well with Dylan. He shifts slightly, looking concernedly into Mallory’s hospital room. It’s really all he can look at, through the window, watching Mallory and Lisa at Mallory’s bed in the dimly lit room.
“She’s going to be very weak for the next couple of days. She should stay in bed whenever possible.”
Leaving his eyes on the window, Dylan nods, the words brushing past his mind and not really sticking there.
Doctor Mehew pauses, watches Dylan for a moment before going on. “I’d recommend Asprin for the pain, and lots of fluids for the next few days.”
Dylan shoves his hands into his pockets and looks down at the floor. Everything seems like a horrible, heavy dead weight on his shoulders, and he can’t even imagine what it must be like for Mal. “I’ll make sure she gets rest.”
“Don’t leave her alone if you can help it. This kind of loss can be… detrimental to the mental health of the mother.”
Detrimental to the mental health of the mother? Dylan frowns. He knows Mallory’s much stronger than that. “She’s strong.”
“Even still. Some of the strongest women in this position have made wrong choices. Don’t think she—or you, for that matter—have to go through this alone.”
Dylan doesn’t really want to hear it. He wants to be back in that room with Mallory, comforting her. He kinda wants to smack this stupid doctor in the face.
“I have the number here of a counselor you may want to talk to. All three of you.” Doctor Mehew starts digging through his pockets until he finds a business card. He holds it out to Dylan.
“Thanks,” Dylan says, taking the card. He glances down at the name and number on the card, hoping they won’t need to use it.
Sensing Dylan’s discomfort, Doctor Mehew brings the subject back around, “if she starts bleeding again, bring her in immediately.”
After taking a look up to Doctor Mehew, and another glance back in to where Mallory lays, Dylan clears his throat. He asks the question he wants the answer to, and knows Mallory will want the answer to. “Does this mean she’s never going to…?”
Doctor Mehew shakes his head. “No, it doesn’t. There are precautions that should be taken next time she conceives, but I don’t see a reason she won’t be able to carry to term if you two decide try again.”
Dylan nods, letting it sink in. “Thank you, Doctor.”
“You’re welcome. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got another patient to attend to.” He starts down the hall, leaving Dylan standing alone, looking in on the scene between sisters in Mallory’s room.
Dylan enters, breaking the silence. The door swooshes to a soft close behind him, and his soft footsteps cross the room. Lisa’s chair squeaks against the floor as she scoots back a little.
Mallory doesn’t turn to look at Dylan. Her free hand lies across her lap and rests on her hip. Her eyes are closed.
“How are you feeling?” Dylan asks her once he’s crossed the room and is sitting by her side. He tries his best not to look worried as he lifts his hand to rest on her shoulder.
“Everyone keeps asking me that,” she responds, leaving her eyes closed.
The machine attached to her IV buzzes and releases more pain killers into Mallory’s system.
“Well, we’re concerned.” He reaches down and takes her free hand off her hip, laces their fingers together. He glances up at the machine and wonders idly how long she’s going to be on the drugs, how long she’s going to have to stay, how long he’s going to worry… how long before they can try again.
Her voice is slow and soft, like molasses. “I’m okay.” She pauses for a moment before going on, “…I thought you were going to leave me.” Her eyes open and she looks up at him.
Dylan throws a confused look at Lisa, silently begging for her help in deciphering. When Lisa simply shrugs, he turns back down to Mallory. “What?”
Mallory sighs, closing her eyes. “Since there’s no baby anymore…”
Dylan frowns at the thought. Of course not. He’s here to stay. When he said he loved her, he meant it. He moves closer to Mallory on the bed and wraps an arm around her shoulders. “Don’t be ridiculous.”
True, the first reason they decided to get married was because of the baby. And he hadn’t said he loved her until she forced it out of him. But he just doesn’t say things like that. It’s not his style. He starts to wonder if she’d ever really believed him.
Her voice cuts off his train of thought, mirroring what’s going on in his brain. “But… isn’t it the reason we decided to—“
“Yes,” he cuts her off, “but I’m not going anywhere. I’m not going to run away with my tail between my legs at the first difficulty. I’m here to stay.”
Mallory starts sniffling again. “But, I thought… I thought—“
“You thought wrong.” He holds her against him, resting her head on his shoulder and his chin on the top of her head. He wishes this wasn’t so hard. He wishes he could just open his heart and show her the truth. He wishes he didn’t have to say it. “I do love you, and when I said we were going to get married, I meant it. For better or worse.”
Lisa shifts awkwardly. Her hand remains tightly bound by Mallory’s, even though Lisa seems like she wants to go, to leave them alone.
“I love you, too,” Mallory chokes out.
“Maybe I should—“ Lisa wriggles her hand free from Mallory’s and stands. “Maybe I should let you two have some alone time.”
Mallory nods, softly, letting go of Lisa’s hand. Lisa understands, quickly grabs her backpack, and lets herself out of the room to read in the hallway. The key chains on her backpack jingle as she heads out.
“Shhh…” Dylan runs his hand over Mallory’s hair, holding her against him, trying his best to calm her. “You should get some rest.”
Mallory nods. “I just want to go home. I want to go home with you. Can I? Can you take me home?”
“The doctor wants you to stay for another day or so,” he kisses her forehead, “just another day.”
“Okay. I can stay. I don’t want—“ her voice cracks, “—I don’t want to be sick.”
“Shhh. You should sleep.”
“S-Stay? Please stay with me?” Her voice almost frightens him with its desperate, quality—almost like a scared child begging a parent to stay because of a nightmare.
But this is a real nightmare. He can’t blame her for wanting him to stay.
Dylan nods, softly laying down with her on the hospital bed, his arms still wrapped around her. “I’ll stay until you’re asleep. Then I’ll take Lisa home. She’s tired, too. She needs her rest.”
Mallory nods, cuddling against him, her breathing slowing. Dylan’s hand runs over her hair, softly and gently, hypnotizing her, lulling her to sleep.
After twenty minutes or so, Dylan pulls himself away from the sleeping Mallory. She whimpers in her sleep, but curls to herself, soundly dozing. He plants a kiss against her forehead. Then sits back and watches her. It’s going to be a struggle, but he’s sure she’s strong enough to handle it. The only question running through his mind is if he’s strong enough to handle it.
“Sleep tight.” He stands and walks to the door, slowly, hands in his pockets. The wall holds him up as he leans against it, folding his arms across his chest. He turns back and looks at Mallory, a soft, aching pain deep in his heart.
Mallory lies on the bed, curled sideways in a fetal position, facing the window. Dylan stands, watching her sleep, wanting to cry. Wanting a release for his emotion.
Dylan watches Lisa stand when the door opens, closing her laptop in a swift movement and setting it on the chair behind her.
“Is everything… okay?” she asks, fear in her tone.
Dylan nods. “She’s sleeping. Let’s go home.”
Lisa packs up her backpack, moving slowly, before Dylan comes over and helps her.
“Thanks…” she sighs softly. “I’m just so—”
“Tired?” he interjects. He knows the feeling, but she’s been here for much longer than he has. He feels sorry for her, looking over at her with a soft, supportive smile.
Lisa nods, pulling her backpack up over her shoulder. He reaches over and takes it from her.
“Must be really draining. C’mon. Let’s get you home. We can come back tomorrow to pick her up.”
“I’ve got school tomorrow,” Lisa starts, weakly.
“I’ll call you in sick.” Dylan grins softly, wrapping an arm around her shoulders, supportively. He likes the feeling that he can help them both. He likes that they turn to him in their time of need. He likes more than anything, that he’s a part of a family now, even if it’s going through turmoil.
He nods, giving her shoulders a squeeze. “You’re welcome. It’s all going to be okay. We’ll get a good night’s sleep, and come back in the morning. Maybe sneak in some Chunky Monkey for Mal?”
Lisa smiles a little. “Sounds good.”
They walk together past the Nurse’s Station Counter, and out to Dylan’s car.
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